The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has announced that it has been ranked as the No. 1 Performing Arts Hall in North America in the 2,000 seat category of "top spots" in Venues Today (July 2012 issue), the industry bible of performance venues.
Van Wezel Executive Director, Mary Bensel noted it has been an "exciting ride" at the helm of the city’s Crown Jewel of performing arts venues in the four county area, since her arrival in December of 2007.
"We are thrilled to be ranked the #1 performing arts hall in North America for 2,000 seat venues, as well as being ranked #4 in Florida’s venues in the 5000 seat category. The top five Florida venues include the Broward Center in Ft. Lauderdale, the Straz Center in Tampa, Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, the Van Wezel and the Bob Carr in Orlando. All of the other top five theatres in the 5,000 seat category have more seats and are in larger markets than the Van Wezel, so we are very proud to be ranked with them." The rankings are based on concert and event grosses from October 16, 2011 to May 15, 2012. Twenty performing arts venues were listed in the 2,000 seat category.
The Van Wezel was also recently awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, given to establishments that consistently achieve exceptional traveler ratings on TripAdvisor and maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five. The Van Wezel received a 4.5 rating.
Again this season, the Hall will NOT require a City subsidy and will post a surplus to its fund balance. Ticket sales for last year’s season went to $6,200,000, up from the previous year’s $5,500,000 (round numbers). The Van Wezel, which operates with a greatly reduced staff, still presents the world’s finest performers. Last year’s season was highlighted by performances of super stars Dolly Parton and Jerry Seinfeld, along with a myriad of other shows. This year’s stars will include Sheryl Crow, Celtic Woman, and Celtic Thunder, with many more set to be announced.
This year’s Broadway series is highlighted by the new 25th Anniversary production of the Broadway blockbuster Les Miserables, and Cathy Rigby in a new production of Peter Pan. The Great American Orchestra season features The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. A “Legendary Season” of stars and attractions are set to be announced in early September and single tickets for all shows will go on sale on September 8th.
Subscription and sponsorships are up for next season and the Van Wezel is anticipating an exceptional year.
This season the Van Wezel plans on adding an outdoor terrace café to supplement its inside restaurant, Mattison’s Bayside, so that dining capacity will be expanded. This will also enhance the beautiful grounds of the Hall for groups who utilize the Grand Foyer for parties, proms, weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, Quinceañeras, galas, etc. Other recent capital improvements for the Hall have included an orchestra pit lift, hearing loop, new auditorium seating, and a new line array sound system. In addition to success in the Main Stage, the Van Wezel’s Education Department has increased audience attendance, offered new programs, and spear headed the drive to bring the Kennedy Center’s “Any Given Child” program to Sarasota County and its school system.
For tickets and information, contact the Van Wezel Box Office at (941)953-3368 or log on to www.vanwezel.org.